|Burrell Mohler Jr.|
The piece begins with Burrell Sr. delivering a father's day sermon at the Community of Christ Church in Bates City, where he was a lay "priest," or deacon. His sons and co-defendants David and Jared were deacons at Community of Christ churches in Lamoni, Iowa, and Columbia, Missouri, respectively.
Burrell Mohler Jr. left the Community of Christ in 1982 and joined Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), or Mormon church. Burrell Jr.'s former wife, we've learned, took her children's complaints that they were being abused to the church. But a church bishop, Paul Tonga, made the idiotic decision to investigate the matter himself. (The Star reported that Burrell Jr. was excommunicated from the LDS church in 2007 for personal conduct unrelated to child sexual abuse.)
The Community of Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are similar but different. The Community of Christ reacted quickly when the story broke. The church said it took the allegations seriously and stripped the three Mohlers of their licenses. The church also held a prayer vigil. In a Fox 4 report about Tonga's inaction, Community of Christ officials made a point to distance themselves from the Mormon church.
For its part, the Mormon church has said Tonga should have consulted with church leaders, who would have told him to notify the authorities.
To be sure, there were churchgoing readers who were offended that religious affiliations played such a prominent part in Sunday's story. But fair's fair. The Mormon church, after all, played a high-profile role in the effort to ban gay marriage in California. A church that inserts itself in the lives of others can expect scrutiny when it deigns to elevate men capable of Tonga's catastrophic stupidity.
If a church can't protect the children who sit in its pews, who is it to tell us about anything?